From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#6 Juwan Johnson/WR/6’4 230 lbs – Oregon
- Long arms boosts his catch radius
- Also has very big hands (10 ½”)
- Beefy receiver that is hard to bring down after the catch
- Capable of making highlight reel catches
- Big enough to beat press coverage
- Uses his body to shield defenders from the football
- Chippy blocker who is not afraid to get his hands dirty
- Has big hands but really struggles with drops
- Hands are very inconsistent
- Body catcher at times
- Lacks true downfield speed
- Route running very clunky and sluggish
- Injury history is very concerning
- 2019: 30 receptions for 467 yards and four touchdowns
- Career: 111 receptions for 1590 yards and six touchdowns
- Had eight receptions of 20+ yards in 2019
- Transferred from Penn State to Oregon after 2018 season
- All Big-Ten honorable mention in 2017
- Made six starts in his final year
- Missed four starts in 2019 due to a calf injury
- Rated as a top five recruit out of New Jersey coming out of high school
Juwan Johnson should be a familiar name for those in Pittsburgh and in the state of Pennsylvania. The class of 2020 receiver played a few years at Penn State before transferring to Oregon for his senior year. Johnson would spend his final season paired up with top quarterback prospect Justin Herbert. Unfortunately, the receiver was not able to fully capitalize as he missed four games due a calf injury was held to just 467 receiving yards. While he did shine at times, he also had an equivalent number of inconsistent showings, mostly due to his frequent drop problem.
For every high, there is a low. That seems to be the general theme with Johnson’s tape so let us begin with his peak. A magnificent one-handed catch down the sideline against Ohio State, this was not only the highlight of Johnson’s tape but also one of the top catches in the NCAA at the time. The former Penn State receiver is capable of making extraordinary catches due to his size, arm length and hand size giving him a large catch radius.
Johnson’s physical toolset is his greatest asset. When he is in rhythm, he can simply out muscle and out jump opposing cornerbacks for the football. There could be room for him to grow as a red zone target if he can improve his hands as his size and frame make him an excellent jump ball receiver. Watch above as Johnson tracks the football and high points the football. With his 6’4 frame and 34’ arms, this is an obvious mismatch that leans in the Oregon receiver’s favor.
The Oregon receiver ran his fair share of inside breaking routes and while he is nowhere near being a crafty route runner, he was able to take advantage of the lax coverage that many college defenses provided him. With room to operate, Johnson was a nightmare to tackle with the football in his hand. Watch as he takes the Colorado defensive back for a ride on the play above. While he may not get the benefit of lax coverage in the NFL, look out for Johnson in the open field as his size makes him one tough man to tackle.
The Ohio State corner tries to jam Johnson at the line of scrimmage above but he fails as he quickly shakes off his press attempt. Obviously due to his stature, Johnson is going to be a difficult player to overpower and jam at the line of scrimmage. This will only help him at the next level where the coverages will get tighter. While he may not have the speed to separate down the field, he could get a jump start if he can beat corners off the line of scrimmage.
Another area where Johnson’s size will work to his benefit is in the blocking department. Besides being a willing downfield blocker, Oregon also used him in a few interesting ways. On more than one instance, Johnson was tasked with motioning towards the formation and laying a block to pave the way for his running back. Due to his large frame, this actually worked successfully more often than not.
Circling back to the top when I mentioned that for every high there was an equivalent low. For every seemingly impressive catch that Johnson made, there are at least one to two drops that will plague his performance. For a receiver with such massive hands, it is disappointing the rate in which he drops footballs heading his way. There are a lot of flat out drops sprinkled throughout his tape, both at Penn State and Oregon.
There are also a few occasions on which Johnson double clutches or tries to body catch the football and these also result in quite a few drops. If the Oregon receiver wants to survive on an NFL roster, his hands are going to have to improve immensely. For a target that brings excellent height and a large catch radius, it is maddening to see the issues he has with holding onto the football.
Other areas of concern are his overall lack of athleticism. He is not going to burn you downfield and he is not generally quick either, leaving little room of separation in his route running. His bread and butter are going to be his physicality and winning contested throws. The only issue is that his ability to make these plays often comes down to a coinflip due to his poor hands. If Johnson wants to see any longevity at the next level, his consistency when it comes to catching the football is going to need to improve by a tenfold.
Projection: Late Day Three – UFA
Games Watched: vs Utah, vs Colorado, vs Ohio State (2018)